Engine Room Maintenance

Maintaining your engine room is essential for retaining the value of your boat as well as proper performance. Even if you are checking your engine room on a regular basis, a dirty engine room appears as an un-maintained boat.

  • Get adequate lighting – the only way to spot existing and potential problems is a throrough visual inspection. If lighting is bad, you will miss many problems. Even with a visual inspection, tactile inspections may be necessary in some areas. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! Check all hoses at least once a season. Run your hand along the hose – sometimes you will feel minute cracking due to dry rot. If so, replace the hose at once. Make sure all hoses below the water line are double clamped. I have also seen boat owners try to get away with using hardware store clamps. Don’t try to save a few cents here! Buy quality marine grade clamps that won’t rust and fall apart.
  • Engine room ventilation is essential for keeping odors down, fumes out and a safer boat. Although with diesel engines you don’t have to worry about explosive fumes, you still need to worry about carbon monoxide. Even the undetectable leak in an exhaust hose can emit CO2 into your engine room and into the boat. Proper ventilation will also keep the “stuffy” smell out of the engine room.
  • Use oil sorbs under your engines. We have found that the “diaper” variety works best. These will soak up any oil drips that may occur from loose engine fittings or checking oil. This keeps the oil from ending up in the bilge. If you find oil in your bilge on a regular basis, you can put an oil “sock” in the bilge – but also find out where the oil is coming from, because this is not acceptable!
  • Degreasers are your friend! Any time you see grease in your engine room, use degreaser and get it out fast. The longer it stays, the more chance it has to permeate into the gelcoat creating a permanent stain. In a pinch, dish washing detergent will do a fairly good job as a degreaser.
  • If all else fails , paint is also a good friend! If you already have stains it is time to get out the paint brush. Here neatness counts. We have seen may “amateur jobs” where paint was dripped over equipment, hoses had paint all over them, and painting was not complete. It is possible to touch up only the stains, but if the paint does not match exactly the job will not look right.

This is just a preliminary list. I will be doing more extensive Engine room inspections tips installments in the future. The engine room is the “heart” of the ship. If the heart fails, the body will follow suit.